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Woodstock mulls Dean's Store, DDA relocation

No timeline has been set for move

If all goes to plan, the Woodstock Visitor Center at Dean's Store could relocate next year. 

The city is eyeing the possibility of the center, along with its Downtown Development Authority's offices on Main Street, relocating onto the Chambers at City Center campus. Both entities would relocate into what's commonly referred to as Building B, one of three buildings that made up the former Woodstock Community Church. 

One estimate of the project puts the cost between $500,000 and $520,000 and City Manager Jeff Moon said the the city has $231,739.28 directed towards the project. 

The Woodstock Downtown Development Authority last week directed staff to move forward with negotiating with Ameris Bank to receive a loan with an interest rate of up to 3 percent. Executive Director Billy Peppers said the city would request between $250,000 and $350,000 for the loan, depending on the final cost estimates for the project.

Peppers said construction details are still being hammered out, so the final amount could change as bids come in.

He noted he'd like to see the project completed by next summer.

"There are no formal plans for Dean's Store moving forward as we are still working on scoping the timeline for our new location," Peppers added. 

The city rents the space reserved for Dean's Store from the Dean family and Moon said the family has eyed the possibility of opening a business in the location. 

The city plans to demolish part of the building and rebuild the structure. The project will also make way for the first phase of the city's long awaited Arnold Mill-Towne Lake Parkway widening project. The first phase includes installing a left-hand turn lane on Towne Lake Parkway so drivers can turn left onto Main Street.

Moon added the road widening project is schedule to start in 2013.

"We don’t have a set time for the demolition yet, but it will be late this year," he added. 

The city purchased the former church site in 2009 for $3.7 million in an effort to relocate its city council meetings back into downtown after moving from the old municipal complex on Arnold Mill Road. The city razed that building due to foundation issues and the site has since been used as an expansion of its Park at City Center.

With the exception of a few city departments, the city moved its operations and government meetings to the former Robert Harris Homes building on Highway 92 in 2009. City council and planning commission meetings resumed last year at the chambers after the city renovated the sanctuary to fit its needs.

The Chambers at City Center, named after the city's first and only female mayor Evelyn Chambers, sits on about four acres at the northwest corner of Towne Lake Parkway and Main Street.  Building B sits closest to Towne Lake Parkway behind Hot Dog Heaven and was used by Woodstock Community Church for classroom space. It also contained a fellowship hall.

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